Well, our kids have now been out of school for two weeks. Firstly, I want to speak to the teachers. Superstars!!!!! So many of you have had so many things on your plate! The learning curve to administering online learning is pretty huge, and I know many of you had a lot of trouble shooting to manage this during this period, while also still having to care for your families and their needs. Hats off to you! My hope for you is that during Easter Break you can have some downtime to recharge and regroup…especially in the event that that the children of the nation do not return to school physically after the holidays.
Parents, whoooiiieeee! I know for some of you it has been quite a ride. The expectations and guidance that have been given by schools have varied and I know some rides have been smoother than others. Many of you also have multiple children to manage, which means multiple learning schedules, and if you are really unlucky, a demanding work schedule and a toddler or two!
For parents whose children have gone to schools that have provided some form of online learning, this has added structure to your day. Many students were required to check in at certain times and submit work within certain deadlines, and this would have created a schedule in your household. So now that Easter break is here, does that mean bedtime is out the window along with any semblance of structure?
My advice… hang on to some of the structure. It may be what makes this period manageable for you. In last week’s episode of ‘A Child’s Life’ I emphasised that schedules and routines can be helpful during times of uncertainty. We are in a pandemic. We have never seen anything like this, and this pandemic goes beyond health and affects the level of fear, stress and anxiety in the household. In some cases, it may even be laced with grief, as some may be grieving the loss of their every day normal, their businesses, visions they had for this period and even worse, perhaps a loved one. This is a lot to deal with as a parent, especially when you are working from home, parenting full-time, managing your child’s home learning, and making sure that the day to day domestic tasks are taken care of.
Many of us hold our breath every time we open a new update graphic form the Ministry of Health, as there is no predictability during this time. So, as we go into the next two weeks where our children may not have a structured school schedule, I encourage you to make a structured family schedule or routine with the elements that you can make predictable. This can do wonders for the energy in the household and make the days run just a little bit smoother.
Begin by looking at the adult schedules in the house. Where there is more than one adult, discuss the amount of time each needs for working from home and performing domestic tasks. This is especially important for those of you with young children that are not quite independent and call your name 40-60 times a day! Once you and the other adult(s) in your house have discussed this, work backwards and add in what your children will be doing on your schedule. The key in creating family schedules and routines is that you are setting yourself up for success. Expecting Tommy who is 4 years old to read independently for an hour, is not setting yourself up for success. Be sure to be realistic about your children, their needs, your personality and needs, and the personality and needs of any other adults in the household. Also, do include down-time.
For those of you that are single parents, begin by looking at your work and home responsibilities. Schedule these items to correspond with low supervision activities with your children, such as T.V. watching and tech time. Schedule their learning time, or other times that may require your support at a time when you are more likely to be able to give them this time. Make sure this schedule works for you!
For children that usually have many activities outside of the home, it may take them a little while to adjust to unstructured downtime, but remember that imagination, creativity and self-discovery are three skills that come out of being bored!
For those of you with older children and teens, a routine or schedule is also really important if you want to avoid days spent on Netflix, social media and video games. They may enjoy sleeping in and lazy mornings during this time, which is fine. You can work with them to add structure for the rest of their day that may include their study time, chores, exercise time and family time. Make them an active participant in discussing the family schedule.
I know it is tempting to throw routine and schedules out the window as we are knocking on Easter Holidays’ door, but do remember that we are in unusual times. A little predictability and structure can go a long way for all members in the household.
Here is a sample family schedule for those of you with young children.
Be safe and Stay home.
Shifting Perspectives is a weekly conversation with Yolande. Yolande, a Canadian of Caribbean descent, now calls the Turks and Caicos Islands home and in this podcast challenges Caribbean woman worldwide to fuel themselves with diversity in the way they think, the way they work, the way they parent and the way they live.